Airport expansion to start in Blacksburg, road to close permanently

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) An extended runway could be open by the end of this year at the Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport in Blacksburg. Work is expected to start next week and will impact road travel.

The biggest change that starts right away is the closure of Research Center Drive. The road connects the Corporate Research Center to the campus of Virginia Tech. The elimination of that road will allow the new runway to extend into a field across the existing street.

"This has been the ultimate goal of the airport authority recognizing that the community continues to grow," said Michael St. Jean, the executive director of the airport.

Final plans that hang on the wall inside the airport show what's changing and coming to the Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport. The project that's starting its third year of construction includes this 55 hundred foot expansion of the runway. Research Center Drive is expected to close March 7th to allow for construction to begin.
The 20 million dollar project is being funded mostly with federal funds and will allow larger aircraft to use the runway.

The director says the extension not only improves safety, but was needed as the New River Valley grows.

"We have the ability to support the community from multiple different ways. From big box retailers to Corporate Research Center, from Virginia Tech to tourism," St. Jean said. "This is a system and it's like a tool so it allows us from an economic development stand point, from regional transportation as well as financial self sufficiency."

The updates also include new hangers. The changes are expected to bring in more flights, which in return bring more people to the area. Larger fuel purchases are expected, which will help increase revenue.

The airport handles mostly business travel. This expansion will allow companies to bring in larger planes that could seat up to 20 people.

This final phase of work comes just a few month after the new entrance to Virginia Tech from route 460 opened which included a new Research Center Drive.